Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Welcome to the Middle of Your Novel

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Writers energetically welcome the beginning of their novels. Whether a writer is a detailed plotter, a pantster, or a mix of both, an individual process guides them into characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, and emotion. Creativity is king and dictates the imagination. Writers inhabit a world of excitement … until the characters step through the first doorway and the middle slowly spirals down. This is where the writer risks the reader skipping through pages and pages to the climax or puts the book aside.

  • The storyline sags like a worn mattress.
  • Characters behave in confusing and often perplexing manners.
  • Scenes lack conflict.
  • Emotion is flat.
  • Setting no longer contributes to the storyline.
  • The plot is predictable.
  • In short, the story is boring.

The writer can’t give up. Instead of quitting, embrace the next segment of the novel by considering these tips.
  • Build each scene into another. For example scene 42 must have the action and events of the previous scenes leading up to it.  
  • Complicate the characters’ lives. Relationships are never easy, so make your characters suffer and sacrifice.
  • Demonstrate the character doubts what he/she has learned.
  • Ensure a goal or a problem to solve, conflict, and high stakes are evident in each scene.
  • Find a believable reason for the protagonist to quit. Then show new inspiration for the protagonist to continue.
  • Force the character to choose between two rights—or two wrongs. Then face the consequences.
  • Incorporate a crucible. This is a situation, mental or physical, that connects people. The crucible is so important that no one is willing to give it up.
  • List the worst possible scenarios for all point of view characters. What works to add dimension, tension, and conflict to the story?
  • Study the protagonist’s and antagonist’s psychological traits. The writer’s best scenes occur when a character behaves the opposite of what the reader expects.
  • Toss a wrench into the middle of the story that changes the outcome.
  • Use subplots—problems involving other characters that are connected to the main plot.

Strengthen the muscles of your novel’s middle and finish strong. 

How do you welcome the middle of your novel? 

Writers, welcome to the middle of your novel - tips from @DiAnnMills on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tips to strengthen the middle of your novel from @DiAnnMills on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at


  1. I always stall around that point. For me it's because I have plotted some but can't plot anymore until I write. I'm the proverbial PLANster. I usually have to stop and plot out the next third or so after the characters have changed what I was writing. This gig isn't for the faint of heart.

    1. You are so right! Writing isn't for wimps! I'm a pantster too!

  2. You got that right, Ane! Writing novels is not for the faint of heart. Thank you, DiAnn, for your expert insights. I'm in the middle of my current WIP now, and your advice is very helpful.

  3. I always struggle with the middle point of my stories. This amazing post is like a lighthouse! Now I know what I must do to improve it.
    I cannot thank you enough, DiAnn!

  4. Thanks Ingmar, I appreciate your encouragement! Really glad I brought a little light on your book.

  5. Wow, lots of great tips. I'm reading "Save The Cat" on novel writing. It has ways to help the middle as well.

  6. Hello, I would like to thank you for sharing this interesting information. I appreciate reading it. I would like to share with you all one source which might be useful for a lot of people. Nevertheless, thanks a lot.